The multimillion-dollar overhaul of Whole Foods Market's store off Baseline Road and Broadway in Boulder has been on the drawing board for years.
And it almost didn't happen at all.
The Basemar Shopping Center grocery store was one of 23 inherited by Whole Foods in the Rocky Mountain region after the Austin, Texas-based natural grocer acquired the home-grown Wild Oats Markets in 2007 for $565 million.
The store at 2584 Baseline Road was also one of the oldest: In 1987, it was home to the Boulder chain's very first store to be called Wild Oats.
Whole Foods climbed from 10 stores to 33 stores overnight in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Utah, and the planned upgrades were hindered by limitations in capital, said Will Paradise, president of Whole Foods' Rocky Mountain region.
"Then the economy softened," he said. "Despite the best intentions ... it was difficult."
Whole Foods' other stores around the region, including the Pearl Street location and Ideal Market, have been remodeled since that time, but Baseline took a little longer.
Come Feb. 10 — nearly seven years after Whole Foods absorbed Wild Oats — the Baseline store's update is slated to be finished.
The nearly 17,000-square-foot store is one of Whole Foods' smaller locations, but the work that occurred since the Thanksgiving time frame has been no tiny task, store officials said.
While not disclosing any financial details, Paradise and grocery officials said the Baseline store's remodel was "one of the biggest, if not the biggest" of the chain's current group of renovations.
According to building permits filed with the city of Boulder, the initial valuation provided by the contractor was $2.8 million for the interior finish and nearly $19,000 for the exterior work.
Despite the major renovation — one in which "every piece of the store was touched" — the location remained open.
"We never wanted to close it," Paradise said. "People rely on it."
To accomplish the remodel, the store's retail space shrank to one-third of the market's size so that construction workers could level the floors and rebuild the other two-thirds of the location.
"I can tell you, you could pretty much find everything in less than five minutes," said Amy Holt, the Baseline store's team leader, referencing the store's temporarily cozy size.
In recent weeks, Whole Foods employees shuffled the grocery products to the newly finished north side of the store as construction workers took to the smaller side.
A week-and-a-half away from opening, Holt beamed as she walked around the mostly finished north end of the store.
The store's customer base, which includes south Boulder residents and University of Colorado students, also played heavily into what will be the finished product, Holt said.
In addition to new items such as an olive bar and an expanded cheese case, the store will feature an increased amount of prepared foods, hot bars such as sandwich and pizza stations, a larger cafe and seating area, and more grab-and-go offerings, she said.
"We'll have a lot more theater, too, with it," she said referencing the station where employees will be slicing and preparing cheese.
The store's design elements also are meant to be a unique representation of the neighborhood and location. Wrapping around the top walls of the store is a bold, red line and a notation of 40° — an homage to the 40th parallel, which runs through Boulder and was the impetus for Baseline Road's name.
As a result of the remodel and the addition of more food stations, Whole Foods anticipates that the workforce at the store will grow to 110 from 87 people.
"I think our real work comes next," Holt said.